Downsize – To Pursue New Beginnings

The cookbooks, the workbench, the garden tools and the treadmill … when you downsize your living space, it sometimes seems like “everything must go.”

South Franklin Circle residents John and Jackie Hallack have dealt firsthand with the dilemmas of downsizing, and they know it can be stressful. The couple moved to South Franklin Circle in 2017, after 30 years in a 4,300-square-foot home in the suburbs. “We knew we would have to cut our belongings in half,” says Jackie. “We had to be relentless.”

In the process, they discovered several strategies. First, they agree, it helps to face the facts. Interests and abilities change across the years, the couple will tell you, and holding on to the past can be counterproductive. As an example, Jackie points out that she and John had once been avid gardeners. “But it had gotten to the point that I just couldn’t garden anymore, and neither could John. Your life changes. So those gardening things had to go.”

Laura Berick reached a similar conclusion in 2015, when she prepared to move to Judson Manor. “Let’s take cookbooks,” she says. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a master chef anymore. So I gave my gourmet cookbooks to a granddaughter who is very interested in cooking.”

In the process, Laura says she found that giving her things to the right recipients went a long way toward easing the transition. “Giving things away doesn’t have to be gut-wrenching,” she says. “Giving things away to people who will really enjoy them – that can be very rewarding!”

The Hallacks also credit moving consultant Susan Kent, Judson’s doyenne of downsizing, with helping them let go. “It was very helpful to have Susan come into our house, look at our furniture, and help us see what would fit into our new place,” says John.

“Susan was wonderful,” agrees Jackie. “The beauty of working with her is that when you move in, you know right away where everything will go. That planning really informed our decisions on what to keep and what to let go.”

After all, says Laura, when you get right down to it, your stuff is just stuff. “My mother was a smart woman, and whenever I would cry over a broken toy, she would tell me, ‘Your things don’t love you back.’ So when I had to downsize, it was okay: It was just stuff. And I knew that  none of it loved me back!”

Even now, Laura has no regrets about what she let go. “Why would you waste time being sad about some inanimate object that you no longer have?” she asks.“I never even go there. At this age, we don’t have time for that. At this age, we should be creating something new, something more carefree.”

In fact, she says, that’s been one of the most rewarding aspects of her new life at Judson Manor.

“Think of living at home as dragging behind you a cape of all the things you are worried about,” she says. “Moving to Judson is like shedding that cape. It doesn’t change who you are. But it does change your possibilities. That’s an unbelievably freeing experience.”

“Downsizing is like a cleansing,” Jackie adds. “When you live with stuff all around you, you start to think you need it, that you can’t live without it. But that’s not true. I can’t think of a single thing I left that I wish I had back.”

And finally, Laura says, it’s always good to remember that your house is not your home. “When you move, you are not leaving your home,” she stresses. “You are simply leaving a structure. Four walls are not a home; wherever I am, that’s my home. And by leaving that house, you are giving yourself a gift: It’s an adventure, an adventure of the soul.”

The Hallacks couldn’t agree more. “Our life at Judson is so different,” says Jackie, with obvious delight. “Now that we’re here, we have exactly what we need.”

Curious about downsizing, decluttering and reorganizing? Join us on May 9 at South Franklin Circle for an event centered on just that!

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